A French politician has blamed the UK for the death of a young Sudanese migrant whose body was found washed up on a French beach after he attempted to cross the Channel.
The boy, 16, was found on Sangatte beach, Calais, on Wednesday morning, seven hours after a friend he was with was found on the same beach suffering from hypothermia.
The friend told emergency services the boy could not swim.
They had tried to row across the Channel in a ‘very small inflatable boat’ using shovels for oars, Philippe Sabatier, Boulogne-sur-Mer’s deputy public prosecutor told France Bleu.
Yesterday French National Assembly member Pierre-Henri Dumont took aim at the British government over the death.
He said the death was caused by Britain’s refusal to allow asylum claims to be made outside the UK.
In a post on Twitter discussing the incident, he said: ‘What we all feared happened that night. How many more tragedies does it need for the British to find an ounce of humanity?’
The inability to claim asylum in Britain without being physically present in the country ’causes these tragedies’, he added.
He also claimed that Channel crossings had been increasing in recent weeks and that migrants in Calais ‘do not want to seek asylum in France’ and ‘refuse state support’, preferring to ‘risk their lives’ in rafts.
He added that British ‘negligence’ does not exonerate the French government from its own responsibilities.
French citizenship minister Marlene Schiappa announced the boy’s death on Twitter on the same day that dozens more migrants attempted the dangerous crossing to the UK.
Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s newly appointed clandestine Channel threat commander, is expected to return to France today to continue discussions with officials in Paris and Calais in a bid to tackle the crisis.
Opposition MPs and charities have criticised the Government’s handling of the situation with a call for Home Secretary Priti Patel to consider her position.
Ms Patel, who has pledged to make the route ‘unviable’, said the death was ‘an upsetting and tragic loss of a young life’.
She added: ‘This horrendous incident serves as a brutal reminder of the abhorrent criminal gangs and people smugglers who exploit vulnerable people.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘The death of a 16-year-old child in the Channel is a tragedy. My thoughts are with his loved ones.
‘This is a humanitarian crisis that needs a compassionate response.’
Meanwhile, in Dover, children were among more than 50 migrants who arrived on boats on Wednesday morning. More than 4,700 migrants have reached the UK by small boat this year, analysis by the PA news agency shows.
Responding to Mr Dumont’s claims, Tory former minister Tim Loughton accused the French of a ‘lack of humanity’ for allowing migrants to endanger their lives in Channel attempts.
He told Channel 4 News: ‘What is happening now is people who are getting into boats, in many cases paying £4,000 to people traffickers, are effectively queue-jumping genuine asylum seekers who we owe a debt to and can give a safe passage and a safe home to because they go through the proper processes.
‘And frankly it is appalling that the French are allowing people to endanger their lives. That is where the lack of humanity is, I’m afraid.’
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